Anchored in San Blas

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sat 14 Jan 2012 17:16
9:35.77N 78:46.55W  1122 miles covered
The trip from St Lucia to San Blas was a "baptism of fire" for most of the World Arc yachts.  I think we were all expecting a gentle trade-wind cruise to a tropical paradise.  However part of the gentle cruise involved gale force winds and big, confused seas.  For the non-sailors out there, gale force winds are not really a problem for an ocean-going yacht, you just handle that by reducing your sail area.  It is the wind/current/tide combination making up the waves that can cause problems if these are all going in different directions.
For us there was one thirty mile stretch where the wind and current caused sets of waves at right angles to each other.  The worst for us was when we were on the crest of one wave and got hit sideways by another, spinning us through 90 degrees and "gybing" the mainsail, which was a shock.  This is not particularly serious if you are prepared, but it gets everyone worrying what might come next.
Much worse for some people is that the continual throwing off course puts immense stress on the autopilot and several out there have failed, which means those crews are having to hand steer continually.  That must be really tiring/harrowing for them.  The good news is that everyone was on the radio net this morning and all are coping and in good spirits, considering.
Anyway, we have arrived safely and anchored at Western Holandes Cays and here is a "travel brochure" shot that Andrea took first thing this morning.  We are just about to jump in the water and swim over shore to explore the island.  Then we are hoping the native Kuna Indians will be coming over to sell us some big juicy lobsters for dinner.
The Panama Cruising Guide warns us not to pick up any coconuts.  Apparently they are all owned by the Kuna, who used them as currency until recently, and taking one is tantamount to stealing money from someone.